Aroma Therapy

There are countless things I remember from my childhood. Some of my favorites had to do with my Granny. She had a vegetable garden that I helped tend. There was an indoor storm cellar/sewing room in her house. My siblings and I would fight each other to sleep there. It was slightly creepy, but that was the draw. She taught me how to make homemade hot chocolate, something I still do today.

But, the single most intriguing item related to my Granny was the smell of her Avon Skin So Soft oil. It wasn’t, still isn’t, a fragrance that I particularly care for, but the smell meant that a loved one was nearby.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR

Insects use scents to attract loved ones, too. Pheromones are used to help each other find food, shelter, and love. As the pest control professional, we use the insect pheromone scents against them. Insects will think a love partner is in the area, but really it’s a farce. Insects will follow the pheromone trail, unknowingly to be caught in that pest control device.

How many times have we humans been duped in that same way? Our young noses followed the perfume and cologne wafting through our junior high school hallway, only to find out we’ve been tricked. That first heartbreak will last a lifetime.

SMELLING UP THE SPACE

In one of my early blogs, I talked about how the spacing of pheromones matters. A grid like pattern will give the the most efficacy in the area. Insects, particularly male insects, use the “trick” smells to find females. This pheromone tactic will cut the reproduction cycle. When male insects aren’t available to mate, populations will decrease.

Correct placement of devices won’t completely eliminate a colony of insects, but it will lead you, the PCO, to their source. Insects follow the scent trail, and so should you.

Chess is a grid

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

I won’t say that pheromones are the be all-end all. They are designed to be a monitoring tool. If you don’t know the depth of an insect population, proper control measures can’t be achieved. Pheromones come in many styles: dome, triangle , or half-moon shaped. There are electronic device additions to pheromones that give alerts through some really cool technology. Last, but not least, a liquid pheromone product was new to the market in 2020.

Whatever brand or type of pheromone products are preferred , space them for efficacy, monitor them on a consistent basis, and use that information to better help your clients. Reach out to the product manufacturers for assistance. After all, they designed these products with the pest control professionals in mind. Aroma therapy IS their love child. CHECK MATE!

Conversation With a Mosquito

I met a mosquito family when a customer complained about them in a yard. Yes, even in the fall, mosquitoes are still a thing. The Buzzyon family immediately disliked me. I can only guess it’s because little Tippie had an anaphylactic reaction to my botanical.

There was this little Punk that immediately acted like my friend. He landed on my arm and continued with me while I had my backpack mist blower running. When I had completed my treatment, he flew off. In his place was Miss Mozzie , rapidly attacking me for displacing her family.

Other Family Members

I finished up with my customer, gave the service report, and went home for the day. I was undeniably unaware of what waited for me on the following morning.

The retaliation had begun. There was No See-ing all of ‘em Brassheads who were waiting for me inside my truck. As I started to drive to the first stop, the scourge started. One by one, the Cousins were in my line of sight, loudly whispering sweet nothings in my ear, and taking jabs at my forehead.

I’m pretty fast at grabbing flying insects from mid air, so, I managed to get a few this way. Others were smashed on the windshield. But there was one. One that kept moving just out of my reach. This one never tried to bite me or buzz my head. I think Paul stayed around to offer some sort of apology for his family trying to take revenge on my behavior. Plus, he must have been grieving. I made him a widower, you know.

Saying Our Goodbyes

If you’ve read enough of my blogs, you know I talk to insects. Well, this day was no different. As Paul sat on my dash, I saw him shaking. “Hey, Bud, are you Ok?.” It looked like he lowered his head.

“I’m gonna let you out the window.” The answer this time was a front leg lifted high. “Ok. Off you go.” Again, the wave of a leg.

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about disrupting the insect life cycle. But, I know human health and quality of life depends on getting rid a disease vectors that reside in insects.

Fly high Mr. Paul Buzzyon. P.S. This is a true story.

I’VE GOT NOTHING TO SAY

When I started this blog, I didn’t think I’d ever run out of insect knowledge to talk about. Lately, I’ve been having some writers block. In my cue of blogs, I have the beginnings of some that will be great – whenever I get them finished. I was hoping to have one completed about ticks and Lyme disease long before now, but I just can’t get the words to come out.

POLLINATORS

I have neglected my flower beds all season. Over the Labor Day weekend, I made myself pull all the weeds. I was pleasantly surprised to find some surviving marigolds under that ruffage (sp.) Next year, I want to find a creeping rose bush to fill that space.

On the back part of our 3 acre property, there are some wild sunflowers growing. I dead headed them to save the seeds. I know they will be extra tall, so those will go under my kitchen window. The sunflowers already had some pollinators attached to them. Several butterflies, a grasshopper, and a bumblebee were among the crew.

I have an entire store room of pesticides that could be used to control insects, but I know how important pollinators are to our food chain. So, I will continue to be diligent about where not to apply chemicals.

MY ADVERTISEMENT

I created an ad for my business using an app. When it was posted, one viewer has some disparaging comments. I used a picture of Monarch butterfly caterpillars. This person criticized me for “not being very good at my job!” I am great at my job, and I know the difference between a pest insect compared to a beneficial one.

I swapped the photo on the ad and reposted. No response… I guess you could say it was just the sound of crickets. Looks like I did have something to say after all.

Endangered Species

When looking at CEU information for my applicator licensing, I came across the EPA Endangered Species website. I had no idea that some pesticide labels instruct the Certified Applicator to refer to this. It is meant to protect all things considered to be “going out of style”… well, extinct.

There are 93 insects in this list. Many of them are types of butterflies and a few bees. The only insect from my home state of Kansas on this list is the American Burying Beetle.

American Burying Beetle

Hawaii has a delicate ecosystem that is worth saving. Many insects on the endangered and threatened list are from this area, such as a kind of Sphinx moth.

Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth

Twelve arachnids are considered endangered and 10 of them are from the Austin, Texas area.

Tooth cave Pseudoscorpion

Various mice, rats, voles, and pocket gophers made the list too.

Alabama Beach Mouse

Fifty-one kinds of snails are threatened or endangered. I know you hate it when they go after your rodent bait, but depending on your location, you might just have to leave them be.

Virginia Fringed Mountain Snail

Geese, ducks, finches, quail, owls, sparrows, and other birds are protected, too. Sometimes we just have to tolerate them.

Masked Bobwhite Quail

I don’t like amphibians, but 38 different frogs, toads, and salamanders have to be kept out of harms way. Reptiles are another group I could do without, but the United States Fish and Wildlife service thinks they should be given a reprieve.

During our peak summer pest control season, our customers request mosquito services. Gambusia fish are infrequently used to control mosquitoes, and two species of this fish are endangered.

Big Bend Gambusia

CAUTIOUS WITH THE LABELS

Pesticides are a great tool for managing the unwanted insect, rodent, or bird populations. We have to remember that use of these tools come with consequences when handled incorrectly. This is just another reason to always read the label. They change all the time.

When your chosen product label says to refer to the Endangered Species list, take the time to read the list. You can find it here: http://www.fws.gov

What A Tangled Web We Weave

I have never taken a martial arts class. Well, not in a classroom setting. I have, however, done some very ninja-like moves in the middle of my pest control route. I know ALL of you starting to smile.

Huntsman Spider

Spiders and humans have to co-exist. Both species have beneficial qualities. I know. I know… some of you will disagree. Michelle, hold your opinion until the end.

Web-Sites

Have you ever wondered why spiders pick particular places to build webs? Me too. It seems like they always put them within my line of sight…even though I never see them. I don’t have arachnophobia, but it’s a nuisance to have to pull spider webs off of my head and face.

I did some homework to find out how Mr. and Mrs. Spider picks the perfect location to build a food catching net. I was pretty certain that those locations weren’t just random, but carefully selected. And… I was correct.

Mama Wolfie

Different species of spiders build different types of webs. Not all spiders build webs, but they have the ability to spin silk. One thing is true – all web site building is determined by environmental factors. Webs are built to catch prey. Even the spider has to eat. It might not be equivalent to humans grilling a steak, but protein makes for a strong existence.

Green Lynx Spider

SPIDER / MAN

Humans and spiders really do need to coexist. Those 8-legged beings are helping with pest control. They are in or near structures because there is an abundance of insect food for them. I know, I know… I am supposed to rid properties of bugs. Well, if you will let me do my IPM razzle dazzle, with a little bit of magic insecticide potion, I can control those little bits of protein that spiders call food. If there is no food, there are no spiders.

Arigope

STRONGER THAN STEEL

I try to get some exercise in a few time a week, but nothing compares to some of the ninja-like moves I have done because of my walking through a masses of spider webs. I liken it to fighting my way out of a paper bag. A single strand of webbing is actually stronger than a strand of steel it’s same size.

On the days I don’t wear a hat, I get to clean webbing out of my ponytail, off of my safety glasses and my face. I often chew gum, so I have eaten a few webs, too.

Orb Weaver

SPIDERS DON’T HAVE ANTENNA

The husband uses a 4-wheeler at his bow club to set up targets. This 33 acre plot of land has quite the array of insects, bees, and of course, spiders. He and his bow and arrow buddies got tired of spider webs being in their sight path, so they installed web-catchers on the front of all the ATVs. They are made out of old reflector poles and look like antennas. My first thought was, “That looks dumb.” But it’s really genius! No more spider web spearmint gum for me… and I am OK with that.

Braly says, “Papa’s 4-wheeler no spiders.”